Yogini and wellness entrepreneur Radhika Iyer Talati tells you how simple modifications in your lifestyle can help you lead a healthy life.
When we discuss Ayurveda as a form of alternative healing or as way of life, experts always mention Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Do you know what these three doshas mean?
The renowned Ashtanga Hridayam, (the 8-fold path to the heart of Ayurveda), one of the foundational Vedic texts of Ayurveda, and perhaps the most comprehensive, explains the concept of doshas beautifully.
To understand doshas, you must understand prapancha -- the world that is made of five!
Everything that is manifested in this universe is made up of these five elements called as the panchamahabhootas, namely earth, water, wind, fire and space that contain in the manifested their qualities.
Earth or bhoomi represents mass and inertia.
Water or aapaha represents fluidity, Fire or agni represents heat and warmth.
Wind or vayu represents instability and movement and finally space or akasha represents occupancy.
The human body is known to contain in it, these very elements in varying proportions that interact with each other to perform various bodily functions.
While all three are present in everyone, Ayurveda proposes that we each have a dominant dosha that's unwavering from birth with a fluctuating balance between the other two.
Tridoshas are the three humours or forces of the body, that bring health when in balance, and give birth to diseases when out of balance.
Ayurveda reiterates that it is Vata that binds together akasha and vayu. Pitta binds agni and jala together and Kapha is the force that balances prithvi and jala.
Functions of the tridoshas
It is vata's energy that makes sure that all our body movements take place without any hindering.
Ranging from absorption of food to cell regeneration, the effective functioning of the nervous system, all excretions, effective breathing and all musculoskeletal functions are governed by this dosha.
Pitta also is equally responsible in balancing two opposite attributes of fire and water in the body.
It imparts warmth, vision and colour to the body.
Imagine blending together stone and water. It is the force of kapha that makes the body stable.
It holds the structural harness of the body via muscles, tendons, ligaments and fat.
It also forms the protective coverings, fluid shock absorber for joints, the brain and the spinal cord.
Most of us experience that our mind, body, or spirit is out of sync many times and that is simply because our connection to our body’s inner intelligence is never explained to us.
An imbalance in any one of these doshas can create an overall imbalance in the body.
How to balance vata
Vata represents movement and when out of balance, it causes problems related to irregular movement such as loss of appetite, constipation, insomnia, poor blood circulation etc.
People with a vata dominant constitution need the discipline of a regular routine so as to remain healthy and grounded.
These are some tips to follow:
- Warm milk, cream, butter, warm soups, stews, hot cereals, fresh baked bread, raw nuts, and nut butters are good.
- Take a hot or herbal tea with snacks in the late afternoon. All sweet fruits (so long as they are extra-ripe) are OK for vata. Warm drinks or hot water are best.
- Spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, ginger, cloves, and garlic are all great.
- Sleep before 11 pm
- Prefer to have warm beverages every day.
- Consume warm food preferably freshly prepared. Wheat, barley, buckwheat, corn, dry oat, millets are all great foods to indulge in.
- Use liberal amounts of sesame oil, cow’s ghee, white butter, olive and coconut oil in your daily diet.
- Steer clear of alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and chocolate.
- Avoid eating too many raw vegetables.
- Have warm milk garnished with turmeric and cardamom before bed
- Meditate regularly.
How to balance pitta
< class="rbig">Pitta represents metabolism and transformation and when off-balance, a pitta-dominant prakriti can cause problems related to excessive heat and acidity in the body.
Symptoms such as acid reflex, short temper, sudden fever and rashes all over the body are common.
Those with a pitta-influenced constitution are hardworking, ambitious and competitive and thus these individuals often need moderation in all that they undertake.
All pitta dominant individuals must strive to keep cool physically and mentally, and apply an attitude of moderation in all that they undertake.
Some tips to follow:
- Consume foods with bitter, sweet, and astringent tastes.
- Consuming cool and refreshing food in summer like salads, cold milk, and ice cream should help.
- A combination of cold cereal, cinnamon and apple tea is a good breakfast option. Consume abundant amounts of milk, grains, and vegetables.
- Sleep by 10 pm.
- Do not over-work or strain the eyes with any screen between 6 and 10 pm.
- Take time to indulge in playing with children
- Exercise in moderation. Swimming, skiing, walking in nature, cycling, yoga asanas are great choices.
- Protect yourself from the mid-day sun.
- Eat slowly. Chew at least 32 times.
- You can consume cool (not ice-cold), beverages once a day.
- Consume freshly prepared meals.
- Use cow’s ghee or coconut oil while cooking. Don’t forget to add spices like fennel, coriander, cardamom and turmeric in your food daily.
- Completely avoid chillies and pepper. Don’t consume vinegar, avoid excess salt, alcohol, tobacco and all kinds of caffeinated beverages.
- Before bed, have lukewarm milk boiled with a little ghee, a few strands of saffron, some cardamom and sugar.
- After brushing your teeth and rinsing your mouth, consume water stored overnight from a copper bottle.
- Practice meditation.
- Avoid situations of excessive heat, steam, or humidity and take plenty of fluids.
- Be considerate and patient with others.
- Engage in quiet and contemplative activities.
- Avoid situations of potential conflict.
How to balance kapha
While kapha is known to be stable, slow and resistant to change, we do know that it is its energy that keeps the structural balance of the body going.
When out of balance, a kapha dominant individual experiences problems in the body that relates to accumulation and stagnation, mostly of fat.
This in turn leads to obesity, poor digestion, respiratory congestion, lethargy and even depression.
Remember that kapha needs mental stimulation and loads of physical activity to remain in balance.
Kapha prakriti individuals are naturally calm, thoughtful, and loving. They have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with a routine.
While they are strong, loyal, patient, steady, and supportive, when imbalanced, they tend to hold on to things that harms their mental state.
Some tips to follow:
- Start your day with a mixture of raw wild honey in half cup of warm water.
- Take a brisk walk every day.
- Exercise regularly and vigorously. Participate in sporting contests or push yourself to get better with your body every day.
- Seek to challenge your intellect as well.
- Reduce the intake of outside food as well as heavy foods. Dry cooking methods such as baking, broiling, grilling, etc. are preferable over moist cooking such as steaming, boiling, or frying. Green vegetables are good for your appetite.
- Indulge in warm beverages.
- Consume food that is warm and freshly prepared.
- Indulge in a variety of spices. Include fresh ginger in your meals. Also spices such as cumin, fenugreek, sesame seed, and turmeric are great neutralisers.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeinated beverages, chocolate and sweets
- Avoid eating breakfast if you aren't hungry.
- Have a light dinner, preferably by 7 pm.
- Avoid consuming cucumbers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes after evening.
- Inculcate a habit of being on a liquid diet once a week.
- Meditate regularly.
Ayurveda and yoga approach health as an integral part of a wholesome lifestyle.
Starting from the genetic composition to changes in our day to day life as well as the changes in the external climatic conditions, it is important to understand that the human body is affected by all these elements.
The level of insight our ancients texts have on the human mechanisms of body, mind and consciousness is unparalleled.
It is time that we identify, learn and apply these methods to lead a healthy, blissful and happy life.